This is an interesting follow up to the recent reflection on the life of Johnny Otis.
I think those artists who have been pludging along and doing really interesting things either in their communities, in their businesses and their daily life have much more effect on the general culture than those who work only within a vertical trajectory.
By “vertical trajectory,” Atkinson is referring to artists who push to get into a gallery, get some sort of breakthrough by making it onto the cover of a magazine and become the next big name — the idealistic ideology most art students begin their careers aiming for. She points out rightly as well that even gaining this kind of notoriety doesn’t put you in front of all that many people. The art world is a fairly small group relatively speaking.
So it’s easy to see why Atkinson, who’s worked and taught in the art world for 30 years, believes artists who are “failures” can have a more significant impact on culture than the Jasper Johns and Christos of the world (By “failures” she means artists who won’t make the front page of an industry journal or the New York Times.).